Newest Review: ... in India and Kenya for a few months). Didn't hear a dickie bird. On the return leg Flybe damaged my baggage. I had to go to the official d... more
Flybe -fly you to some great remote Scottish islands
Member Name: Machair1
Advantages: Friendly stewardess -professional check in.
Disadvantages: Expensive add ons at booking-be careful
I am sitting in the tiny airport lounge at Benbecula in The Outer Hebrides. Behind me a weekend of pure delight, I have walked on sun drenched deserted beaches, clambered over seaweed strewn rocks to vantage points where baby grey seals with as much curiosity towards me as I had towards them swam and wrestled in the waves of the incoming tide. The days were bathed in autumn sunshine and the weekend passed slowly and happily.
So how you may ask has that got anything to do with FlyBe? Well at the end of October Flybe took over the route between Benbecula and Glasgow which used to be run by British Airways. Actually a company called Loganair run the flights on behalf of Flybe as they did before for British Airways and this is the only carrier operating passenger services on this route. Benbecula lies in the Outer Hebrides between North and South Uist.
This morning we awoke to the sight of low cloud and drizzle and no wind. This is very unusual in The Western Isles. I must tell you we have been regular visitors to these islands for over fifteen years now and the normal weather is wind and severe at that! We have lost two Halford roof boxes in the effort to unload them so we have had to invest in a Swedish aerodynamic one by Thule! Anyway back to the low cloud-not good Benbecula has no ground radar.
So here we are the flight left Glasgow at 7.20 am but despite circling round many times has had to divert to Stornoway which is north on The Isle of Lewis to refuel.
It will try again in a while to see if it can get a break in the clouds to land. I hope it does as we have a connecting flight down to Heathrow which if we miss will cost a fortune to rebook. I'll be writing reviews on Dooyoo 24/7 to pay for it!
So while we wait stomachs churning I'll tell you a little about Flybe. You can book online with them which saves money-actually £10 per booking so that's great. It is a budget airline and the charges are sprinkled over the website like confetti. Blink and you have paid extra for insurance as you have to remove it rather than add it to your basket. Secondly paying by credit card is very expensive as it carries a charge of £2.99 per person per flight and a mimimum £5.50 transaction fee. For switch the costs are £1.10 and £1.99 respectively -interesting as how else are you supposed to pay?
Thirdly taking baggage costs £12 per bag per one way flight but £7.99 if bags are checked in on-line. Beware they even let you choose your seats- don't do this the costs are extortionate! So although the single fare is from £26 by the time you add on charges, bags and credit card fees it amounts to a small fortune- oh yes and the cheapest fares are got by booking early!
If you fly with them a lot you can enrol in their loyalty programme and they also offer a credit card which can be used to accrue points against the cost of flights.
Better still if you live on a remote UK island you can get an air discount card which gives you up to 25% off your flight. I can't wait to move there soon!
So here we are at 10.40 and the airport lounge is subdued. Business men tap away on their laptops and talk on their mobile phones. Bacon rolls are consumed from the servery by some (not me as I'm veggie) and there is an air of "what will be will be"
I can't wait to board this plane to tell you how it is but for now I'll fill you in with a few things about the outward leg. Flybe has many planes but the one which flies this route is served by a Saab twin propeller aircraft. The sound is wonderful- reminiscent of the film Casablanca. First one engine is started and then the other and the noise is deafening. Then within a minute you are hurtling down the runway and up into the air. She doesn't need a long take off. It's bumpy as you go through the clouds. Oh and it can get very very bumpy at times. On the way out here were 8 of us and one stewardess but the plane can seat 36. The flight time is 50 minutes mostly at 13000 feet so you can't see very much. We just sat back and enjoyed a complementary bar drink served with a dinky bag of salty snacks.
Nothing prepares you for the view that you have when you come into Benbecula. There are myriads of tiny islands and lochs and the horizon is one of blue and yellow as the runway hugs the coast. Two wheels down and the plane careers to a halt. One minute you are leaving a grey concrete city the next you are transported to a wildlife haven on a place on the edge of the world. Thank you Flybe! However I must tell you a secret, Flybe also take their Twin Otter plane to land you on the beach at Barra. Barra is only a short distance from Benbecula and the flight from Glasgow to Barra is a must for any plane enthusiast like me! It lands on the cockle beach and you walk across the sand to the terminal. If you ever get a chance to do this I highly recommend it. The twin otter has no cockpit door so you actually watch the pilots fly the aircraft and there is no stewardess on that one. It's one of those 1000 things to do before you die-well it was one of mine!
11am still at Benbecula going nowhere. The control tower looks like Marineville on Stingray and is looming out of the mist. I keep looking into the distance at a little cottage which is peeking in and out of view as it bathes in mist. It reminds me of one of those eye tests they do at Vision Express.
Midday the news I was dreading -flight cancelled. I am booked onto the next one at 5.30. Time to drown my sorrows in few cups of tea and something stodgy. Off to the shop for a quick purchase of supplies before returning to the house. Consumed two Kingsmill love to Toast Scotch pancakes 550 calories-who cares I have used up quite a few today! They just might have to recalculate the weight of the passengers before letting me on!
3.30 poking my nose against the casement windows in the cottage I can see mist still blanketing the fields. Sheep are coming in and out of view and I wonder if I really want to be rescued from this place of sanctuary and peace. With the memory of the grey seals in the bay I saw yesterday I think being stranded here would be perfect-oh yes and did I tell you it's going to cost £120 last minute to fly down to London from Glasgow?
5.30 the lounge party convenes again. Doesn't look good they won't even risk checking us in as the plane is still in Glasgow. One lady is on her way to New Zealand tomorrow- hope she gets there. Cancelled again flight BE 6808 is going absolutely nowhere!
So it's back to the cottage for the night. Tomorrow Flybe will send extra planes to mop up the surplus passengers.
First light November 4th. Dew glistens on the sheep studded fields. We leave the house and drive through the half light towards the airport. A stag catches the light of the car headlamps and freezes. Geese rise up from the fields disturbed by the sound of the engine. The airport is bustling and we are checked in quickly. Within minutes the roar of the plane is heard, passengers leave and board the plane with military precision and we are airborne at last. A superb flight attendant serves 36 hot drinks in 40 minutes and mine came with a tasty Walkers biscuit-nice one!
We touched down and on arriving at the terminal saw the next plane was already being prepared to depart for Benbecula. We rushed to the British Midland desk like two film stars and I said "how much to fly on your next flight to Heathrow?" Never done this before as I am an early booker cheap flight buyer. I wont tell you what I paid but luckily my insurance annual policy will cover it but guess what?- I need a letter from the airline. I called Flybe it's a pound a minute for that and I was told I had to speak to Loganair. Still waiting for an email from them but hopefully that will come.
I think Flybe were very good under difficult circumstances. I think they will have many more episodes flying to these remote islands at the mercy of the weather. You know it's what makes life so exciting and one day I am buying a one way ticket to Benbecula because its paradise!
Summary: A Low Cost Airline who fly to many destinations